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Top Shelf With Clementine Ford

The I Don’t author on the book everyone loved that she didn’t, her ideal reading room, and historical lesbian fiction with artful twists

By Laura Brading

Each fortnight we catch up with a writer to get a peek inside their reading life. This week it’s Clementine Ford’s turn. The writer, broadcaster and feminist community builder is preparing to release her new book I Don’t: The Case Against Marriage (which the publisher tells us is “her most incendiary and controversial book to date”).

Arguing the case against marriage for the modern woman, I Don’t dissects the patriarchal history of marriage; the insidious, centuries-long marketing campaign pop culture has conducted in marriage’s favour; the illusion of feminist ‘choice’ in regard to taking men’s names; and the physical and social cost that comes with motherhood.

A book you recommend to everyone.
The Politics of Reality by Marilyn Frye. It is simply one of the best collections of essays I’ve ever read, galvanising and illuminating. I felt like I was encountering a language I had always felt existed but never heard spoken before.


I felt like I was encountering a language I had always felt existed but never heard spoken before

A book you return to or have re-read.
Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchy. I think of this one as my “warm hug” book. The story of Benny coming of age in 1950s Dublin is simply glorious!

A book you think more people should read.
White Feminism by Koa Beck. It’s impeccably researched, necessarily confronting (for white women like me) and an invitation to unpack our complicity in systems that harm other marginalised groups.

In I Don't, Ford asks why, when there is so much evidence of the detrimental, suffocating impact marriage has on women's lives, does the myth of marital bliss still prevail?

A book you hated but everyone else loved.
Normal People by Sally Rooney. She’s a gifted writer for sure, but I find her plot lines and characters generally insufferable and wan.

Describe your ideal reading room.
I know we’re supposed to describe peaceful libraries, but I actually love reading on the plane. I suffered terrible flying anxiety for years, and it’s magically disappeared. Being able to relax and read instead of wrestle with the impulse to (try to) jump out the door seems like an incredible gift! Plus, snacks and drinks at the touch of a button.

You read everything this author writes. Who is it?
Sarah Waters. Historical lesbian fiction with artful twists and payoffs. I’ve reached the stage of my reading career where I’m interested in good stories, not just clever looking things on my shelf. Of course, she’s very clever too.


BY Laura Brading

Laura is part of the PRIMER team and the co-founder of WellRead.

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